Ride the cliche

A season-opening loss to Nebraska forced the Cowboys to ride the cliche into the sunset just like the Stone Temple Pilots do at concert venues. 'One game at a time' may be an old coaches' adage, but it must work, too. OSU hasn't lost a game since the dreaded collaspe in Lincoln Aug. 31...

"One game at a time."

Oklahoma State coach Les Miles has ingrained that mantra into his players' minds.

Nursing a hangover from their nail-biting 51-49 victory over Texas Tech, the Cowboys take that chant to storied Kyle Field this week for a Big 12 grudge match with Texas A&M.

 

And, if the expectations that come with beating two ranked opponents (Kansas State and TTU) in a row isn't enough distraction, waiting in the wings is an opportunity, if all goes to OSU's plan, to play Oklahoma for the Big 12 South lead Nov. 1.

 

How does a team not get overwhelmed by the circumstances, or, worse yet, too confident in a No. 18 ranking to amply prepare for the struggling 3-4 Aggies?

 

Focus.

 

OSU's captain has his troops buying into the "one game at a time" mentality.

 

"It's a goal that we all set at the beginning of the season, right after two-a-days," said defensive end Antonio Smith "Our No. 1 goal that everybody put up was take one game at a time."

 

Cliché? Yes.

 

But also effective.

 

With the exception of the first quarter against Louisiana-Lafayette, the Cowboys have not trailed in a game since the Nebraska loss.

 

Every time the opportunity arises to lose a game, someone steps in and prevents it.

 

The offensive line and Tatum Bell did it against K-State to run the clock out with two clutch first downs. Jon Holland did it Saturday with his impersonation of a flying squirrel, intercepting a B.J. Symons pass with less than two minutes to play against the Red Raiders.

 

Looking ahead seems not to be a problem, and looking back appears as motivation. The loss to the Huskers still fuels the OSU fire.

 

Not a week goes by that at least one player mentions, "This game is the biggest game of the year, just because it is the next game," or something similar.

 

No bold statements of dominance over the next opponent, only focus on the challenge and praise for what that team has accomplished – even if it stood winless, i.e. Southern Methodist and Louisiana-Lafayette.

 

"SMU's a good football team," said right guard Sam Mayes before the SMU game. "I don't expect anything else out of them but a hard-fought game."

 

Granted good PR coaching gets credit for some of that banter, but one can't help but think some truth lies in these statements.

 

The Cowboys have taken care of business since Nebraska, winning six straight. And they have improved every week.

 

"We really don't look at it as being a win-streak," Johnson said. "We try to take it game by game. But with us being successful, we've had a little more confidence."

 

The byproduct of what sounds like a cheesy slogan has been confidence and a winning record, but the attitude remains the same.

 

"We ain't done nothin," Smith said. "We've still got a lot to do. Ain't no letdowns in the Big 12. We've gotta come in prepared to fight and prepared to play a good team."

 

Bottom line: If the cliché gets it done … Ride the cliché.

 

 

Along with the freelance work he does for GoPokes.com and the O-State Sports Report, Matt Palmer is the OSU football beat writer for the Enid News and Eagle. You can reach Matt at datguy01@hotmail.com


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